Studying Native Birds

Native bird study - An Everyday Story

‘Hey Mummy look at that magpie in our yard.’

‘I don’t think that’s a magpie…it looks more like a crow. I’m not sure what that bird is.’


Our new neighbourhood is filled with native birds; sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs, king parrots, budgies, crimson rosellas, magpies and as we soon learned, pied currawongs.

Just looking out my window now I can see a flock of at least ten rosellas in a nearby tree, a cockatoo has just joined them and two currawongs jump from branch to branch on a neighbouring tree.

We are so very blessed to have these exquisite birds share the space we live.

Now you know I love an opportunity to find out a little more about something. So Jack (4yrs) Sarah (27 mths) and I set about trying to identify which birds live in our neighbourhood.

Building a bird feeder - An Everyday Story Making a simple native bird feeder - An Everyday Story Rustic birdfeeder - An Everyday StoryWe wanted to invite them in so we could see them more clearly. I suggested we make a bird feeder. Jack jumped straight into hammering, carefully carefully hammering each nail into an old pot saucer. Then they both scooped in the birdseed. A little water and our feeder was ready. Now all we needed to do was wait.

It wasn’t long before the rosellas spied our delicious treats. They have visited everyday. It’s interesting to watch them eat, Jack noticed that they dig through the seed with their beaks, tossing out some seeds, and searching for others.

And they are a messy bunch!

Studying Australian native birds - An Everyday Story
(Left) the invitation (Centre) Our first visitor (Right) watching from the playroom

So far we’ve been doing lots of quiet sitting and observing; watching how the birds eat, how they move around the feeder, how they land and how they fly away. We also talked about the differences between the magpie and the pied currawong, and also noticed that there were two different kinds of rosellas.

Our little bird book has come in handy but I am very tempted by this one. It looks like quite the definitive guide…I’m just wondering how appealing it will be to children…

I placed the bird feeder right outside our playroom door so Jack and Sarah can easily see when a new friend pops by for a snack.

A magpie - An Everyday Story

A magpie - using watercolour pencils - An Everyday Story
‘This is a magpie. It’s got a long body and a long beak. But mine is rainbow colours, real magpies are black and white.’

watercolour pencils - An Everyday StoryThis was the first time Jack had worked with watercolour pencils. He really liked them. He drew these two beautiful birds and has asked for the pencils everyday since. He’s still very much exploring what the pencils can do but he is enjoying the process. All the while talking about his drawings, giving me little insights into how much he is learning.

Native bird study - watercolour pencils - An Everyday Story
‘This is a blue wren. It’s just a little bird. It’s got a little beak and it bounces a lot.’ ‘It’s black and blue but mine is all colourfully.’

painting with watercolours - An Everyday StorySarah said she was painting birds too. People often ask what Sarah does while Jack is doing project work….Sarah does project work too. I don’t like giving her a busy activity to distract her while Jack gets on with the important work. She is as much a part of this learning as Jack.

Sarah can identify a cockatoo, a magpie and a rosella. She knows that birds eat seeds. She knows that birds like to sit in trees and that they sing a beautiful song.

 Jack’s been asking what else birds eat, having noticed some birds carrying berries….I think this might be a next turn with this project…what do birds eat naturally?


29 Replies to “Studying Native Birds”

  1. Oh, love this! Our 1,5-year-old is a real bird lover too. I think he can identify many (although he doesn’t speak yet, so can’t be sure :D). He can at least make many different songs, and likes to show off his talent. It’s really cute. We have this amazing book that has our native birds singing:

    Maybe there is something like this on Australia too?

  2. Hi, I have been following your blog for a while now, as I am expecting my first baby in October. With a background in education and a passionate interest in Reggio philosophy, I love the ideas you have and the way that you share these with others. I hope to implement many of these myself with my children in the coming years. I currently work in the environmental education sector in melbourne and I thought I would share with you that there is a great apple iphone/ipad application that might assist with this learning. Museum Victoria’s field guide app – it is free and it has lots of animals and information about them including birds.

    1. Hi Julie

      How exciting that your first little one is due so soon. I remember that anticipation…the waiting… how are you feeling? Your life is about to change in every possible way, in the most amazing ways.

      Thank you so much for the app. I hadn’t thought of looking for some field guide apps. This is wonderful. I really appreciate it. Jack and Sarah are going to love it.

  3. oh those bird drawings the kids have done, they are adorable. we have a bird feeder hanging in the window too and get packs of greenfinches relaying in to feed. we did a forest and bird survey this week which made me finally sit down and write notes on bird id as i found my readers digest book of nz birds a bit lacking. i love watching thrm and my wee boy loves watching their shadows dance on the carpet x

    1. Aren’t they beautiful?! 🙂 I love how Jack felt compelled to make his a rainbow colour. Most of our birds are quite large but I love the idea of having the bird feeder in your window. You could really see the birds up close – watch their behaviour. I love watching them too. I find myself just staring out the window watching them hop from branch to branch.

  4. I love this Kate. Although our yard is small with not too many trees to attract birds we still get magpies, crows, willy wagtails (my favorite) and a couple if other common birds that I don’t know the names of. You have inspired me to do a similar project to this. I think Lucy and penny will love it. Penny has a huge fascination with ducks exclaiming Wow! every time she sees one. Thanks for another beautiful post.

    1. I love will wagtails too. Jack calls them willy willytails hehe he can’t quite get his tongue around it. I was thinking about taking Jack and Sarah for a walk to see if we could find some feathers. Penny and Lucy might like collecting feathers and seeing if they can match them to the bird. And then maybe painting with the feathers. We’ve also been collecting small sticks and twigs to make some nests. I was thinking about using clay for a base. This could be a nice exploration. Do you have any abandoned nests around your place?

      1. Willy Willytails, that’s funny! lol. Lucy calls Pee wees, Pee pees which is funnier coupled with the fact that she has been saying to random men lately. ‘ You’re a man, you have a Pee pee. I have a giney’.
        I love the idea of feather painting. We often find feathers on our forest walks. Might have to do one this week and keep our eyes out. Not sure about abandoned nests. We live in a new development with zero established trees. I desperately want to get a nice tree for our garden but don’t know where to start. We are hopeless gardeners here 🙂

  5. Alison Wells says:

    It sounds amazing….and your birds are so much more exotic than we have here. Though we still find time to watch them especially the kestrels and red kites when walk out in the fields.

    Lovely pictures as always.

    1. We are so fortunate to have such brightly coloured birds here in Australia. I never really appreciated our wildlife when I was growing up but now seeing it through my children’s eyes, we really do have some amazing animals down here.

      I’ll have to look up kestrels and red kites. They sound like big birds…

  6. We don’t get too many interesting birds in this part of NY. There is one red bird that seems to be hanging out here quite a bit but, otherwise bird watchers would not enjoy being around here.

    1. Do you mean New York? We visited Sydney a few weeks back and I noticed too that besides pigeons they wasn’t really much wildlife around. It is a very beautiful city though, but I guess that’s what happens in big cities. New York looks like an amazing place to visit 🙂

  7. I am officially very jealous! We love our backyard birds, but don’t have quite the number or variety of critters you’ve got. What a wonderful opportunity for your kids to develop a love of birds. I’ve recently discovered that because we pay attention to the birds in our own yard, we use that same interest when we go some place new. Which sorta warms my heart.

    1. hahaha I think I’ll let you be jealous this time Debi. And I didn’t even show you the king parrots that live in the trees out the front of my parent’s house just down the rood. Gosh they are beautiful. Huge birds, bright red bodies and bright green wings. Just amazing. Dad has these quite unattractive trees in his front yard that he wanted to get rid of but the parrots LOVE the seed pods and so the trees are staying. He always has at least 10 eating the seeds of the ground. So beautiful.

  8. I love this the still life with the nest is awesome 🙂

  9. What a lovely simple bird feeder! Gorgeous learning moments

  10. This is very beautiful my son and I have been enjoying the native birds also. His favourite is the blue wren. Have been searching for a wren figurine like yours for weeks. May I ask where you found this one? Thanks for sharing your beautiful world with us all. Tiffany NSW.

    1. Hi Tiffany. I bought our lovely blue wren from the zoo. It doesn’t seem to have any markings or brand on him. Sorry I’m not much more help.

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